House Democrats have taken their first formal steps to probe President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to steer U.S. and foreign government business to his luxury resorts, part of an expanding roster of inquiries informing them whether to recommend of articles of impeachment.
In a series of letters revealed Friday, the Judiciary Committee and Oversight Committee are demanding significant details about Trump’s call to host next year’s G7 summit at his own private resort — as well as Vice President Mike Pence’s recent stay at a Trump property in Ireland.
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The committees are seeking documents and details from the White House, the vice president’s office, the Secret Service and Trump’s private companies about efforts they say are likely to violate the Constitution’s prohibition on earning money from the U.S. or foreign governments.
“Potential violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution are of significant interest and grave concern to the Committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Secret Service Director James Murray in a letter dated Sept. 5.
The effort closely follows a rare and notable foray by Speaker Nancy Pelosi into matters at the center of the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment probe.
“President Trump is violating the Constitution by making money off of his lavish, ritzy resort properties, ultimately prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people,” she said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
Though Pelosi has frequently accused Trump of violating his oath of office, she has warned colleagues against formal impeachment proceedings and said public opinion isn’t behind such an effort.
Trump first touted the prospect of hosting the G7 at his Doral property in Florida while in Europe at this year’s summit last month. The White House later promoted his suggestion on its official Twitter feed.
Nadler describes the Doral situation as perhaps the first publicly known instance in which Trump would essentially require foreign governments to spend money at his resort in order to attend an important diplomatic gathering. He also cited a June Washington Post story noting Trump’s interest in the resort as a G7 host.
The Judiciary Committee is asking for a list of all U.S. cities considered as G7 hosts as well as communications about the possibility of Doral hosting between the Trump Organization, State Department, White House, Secret Service and Trump himself.
In a related effort, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings is demanding information about Pence’s recent stay at Trump’s resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, 180 miles away from the site of his meetings in Dublin. An aide, Cummings noted, initially said Trump had suggested Pence stay there.
“The threat that the President’s personal financial interests could shape decisions concerning official U.S. government activities is precisely the type of risk that the Emoluments Clauses were intended to minimize,” Nadler wrote.
In Cummings’ letter to Pence’s office — directed to his chief of staff Marc Short — he notes that a June trip by Trump to Doonbeg cost $3.6 million. It was Short himself who initially said Trump recommended Pence stay at his property before aides issued a subsequent statement saying the president’ didn’t “direct” him to stay there. Cummings’ panel is seeking the itemized costs of Pence’s trip.
Cummings, who has not endorsed a formal impeachment inquiry, notably does not mention the Judiciary Committee’s consideration of whether to issue articles of impeachment.